5 Bible Passages to Spur You On in Lent
No matter how Lent has gone so far, we still have an opportunity to make the most of the end. Here are some scripture verses for reflection to finish Lent on a high note.
Matthew 24:13 – “The one who endures to the end will be saved.”
Perseverance is one of the greatest virtues, and one of the harder ones to cultivate. If Lent has been more of an exercise in frustration than in holiness, you are in luck. God can use anything to work for the good; a “failed” Lent is no exception. There is nothing easy about the Christian life, not to mention embarking on a season of penance in a pleasure-seeking world. Cast all difficulties on the Lord. Run to Him and allow Him to work in you. Our loving Father takes our weaknesses and failures, turns them on their head, and uses them to teach us. The lessons include humility, a deeper longing for Him, the inadequacy of the world to satisfy us, and other things specific to our state in life. Perseverance opens the door for the Lord to teach us these lessons. To simply give up and crack open the Easter candy leaves the possibility of great grace on the table.
2 Peter 1:3-4 – “His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Thus he has given us, through these things, his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may escape from the corruption that is in the world because of lust, and may become participants of the divine nature.”
To build on the last verse about perseverance, St. Peter gives us the reason why we persevere. God has made us partakers in the divine nature. Consider that and marvel with St. John, see what love the Father has for us in letting us be called children of God! (1 John 3:1) The beatific vision awaits the faithful in heaven, for those who persevere to the end in faith and love. If this is too abstract of an idea, do not stay in the abstract. Pray about it, read about it, and investigate why the saints have sacrificed everything to go there. Although we cannot fully express what heaven is, there are things we know about it. Peter Kreeft has written about it in Heaven, the Heart's Deepest Longing, as well as Ven. Fulton Sheen in Go to Heaven: A Spiritual Road Map into Eternity. This is worth the fight against our sins and weaknesses.
St. Peter also reminds us that God gives us what we need to advance in a life of grace. It’s an easy trap to fall into to fully rely on ourselves—and to bring in God as a consultant when we need something. Rather, the way of perseverance on the road to heaven is with God’s directions, His strength, His grace, and our full effort.
Proverbs 15:19 – “The way of the lazy is overgrown with thorns, but the path of the upright is a level highway.”
There are all sorts of memes and funny cartoons about laziness. Even coffee mugs! From the perspective of the spiritual life, however, laziness or sloth is a deadly sin. Note the word again: deadly. Chasing laziness robs the heart of desire for anything other than comfort. God promises us rest in the next life, and not in this one.
The world today offers near endless possibilities for comfort and laziness. On top of that, it can be hard to distinguish between things that make our lives easier from things that make us lazy.
Praying every day, going to Mass every Sunday, and exercising our charity muscles can be the first things to go when choosing laziness. Without that nourishment for our souls, the spiritual life becomes more and more difficult. That is one of the great pieces of wisdom from this passage from Proverbs: walking the path of laziness might seem more appealing or immediately gratifying, but the path is actually more arduous than the path of doing one’s duty.
Isaiah 43:18-21 – “Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert… for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise.”
This verse is for those that see Lent as a 40-day unwelcome slog through the desert. God may lead us into the desert, but He is there waiting for us. He gives us water in the desert just like He did for the Israelites so many centuries ago (Exodus 15:22-27, 17:1-7). Consider the visual in this verse to get the full impact of God’s message to us.
Picture a desert: sparse vegetation, rocks, hardened earth, and the heat. Then picture a river suddenly appearing to refresh the land. It brings life to plants, attracts animals, and completely transforms the landscape. It’s very possible that our souls resemble the desert in seasons of our lives. Sin hardens the soil of our hearts.
Into that arid place, God says something incredible: never mind that! God has turned the hearts of countless sinners; then refreshed and transformed them, as a river would refresh and transform a desert. Repent, open your heart, and let His grace flow into it.
2 Corinthians 4:17 – “Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.”
We are not bound by our weaknesses. Baptism gave us an indelible mark onto our souls. This truly is good news! However powerful sin feels in our lives, it does not have the final say. The accuser of our souls can huff and puff all day, but Christ has won the victory over sin.
As Lent comes to an end, I hope these Scripture passages help drive a strong finish. Persevering in faith and charity is difficult but worth it; the glory of heaven awaits. Laziness does not lead to life-giving places, and does not fit well with the transformation that God promises us. Being a new creation gives us hope that while perseverance and transformation are impossible on a human level, with God, all things are possible.
To the youth at the 2002 Toronto World Youth Day, St. John Paul II said, “Do not let that hope die! Stake your lives on it! We are not the sum of our weaknesses and failures; we are the sum of the Father's love for us and our real capacity to become the image of his Son.”